April and May are busy months for school visits and author book signings. Last week, I visited with students at Homelink School in Lake Stevens, and this week I’ll be at Kamiakin Middle School talking to seventh graders. I’m also doing a book signing at a teen art night at the Schack Center. This is a FREE night for teens to make lots of really great art. I’ll be on hand to sign copies of WEAVING MAGIC and STAINED GLASS SUMMER. I’m also bringing along a couple of magnetic poetry kits to create a little poetry!
April is also National Poetry Month, so I try to tie in a poetry exercise when I visit with teens in April. However, one of the challenges in a school visit is I see one group of kids for an hour to an hour-in-a-half. After I finish sharing about my author journey and talking about the process of publishing (including cover art, and editing), I don’t usually have a lot of time left.
The poetry writing exercise is called the I Am poem, but it’s not like traditional I Am poems which are often used in classrooms. This I Am exercise asks each writer a series of questions including:
If you were a color, what color would you be?
If you were at tree, what tree would you be?
If you were a shape, what shape would you be?
If you were a sound, what sound would you be?
If you were a movement, what movement would you be?
The writers make a list responding with the first word that comes to mind for each question. Then, they combine those words into a poem beginning each line with I Am. I always tell the writers, they do not have to use every word in their list as this can make the poem pretty murky!
This is a sample I Am poem one of the teens at Denney Juvenile Justice Center wrote. I often share this poem in the school workshops.
I am a blue diamond spiral.
I am a Cadillac Escalade Infinity and beyond.
I am Skittles from the rainbow.
I am a blue berry tree with emotional pain.
I am a microphone from California.
I am a bed where thugs cry.
I am a pit bull who buzzes around town.
Published in Call It Courage, August 2006.
You can read more poems by the teens in detention at their poetry blog here.
Or, you can read some of the poems written by the teens in the D.C. Freeminds Writing and Book Club at their blog here.